by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey
©1999 by Charles Colson Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois.
Reviewed by Martin Green
True Christianity goes far beyond John 3:16 beyond private faith
and personal salvation. It is nothing less than a framework for understanding
all of reality. It is a worldview.
- A worldview is how our ideas about the world determine
the way we live. It is the foundation upon which we base our beliefs
and our lives. For the Christian, this foundation has come under the
most vicious attack in the last hundred years.
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm
How Now Shall We Live? decisively addresses and convincingly answers
the question. Charles Colson says that this book is the most important
work of his career. The inside cover says it is a defining book
for Christians in the next millennium. It is certainly the most
penetrating and insightful book I have ever read concerning the challenge
facing those who embrace the biblical worldview in the midst of a
culture that has largely discarded the idea that there is a relevant,
personal Creator and a transcendent code of morality to which we are
all accountable. It not only clearly defines the issues facing us,
but equips us with rational arguments founded in biblical truth which
will enable us to fulfill the mandate given us by God to be agents
of redemptive transformation to our culture.
The title of this book is a borrowed and updated version of the title
Christian philosopher and theologian Francis Schaeffer used for his
book, How Then Shall We Live?, which itself was taken from a passage
in Ezekiel 33:10 describing the plight of the nation of Israel under
Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we
are rotting away in them; how then can we live?
The cry of the people of Israel at the time of their captivity was,
How are we going to serve and remain true to our God in the
midst of a culture in which every facet of life is arrayed against
the very things we hold dear? The stark realization had hit
them that they had failed to take their beliefs and heritage in Yahweh,
the God of the universe, and translate them into a lifestyle that
would affect the world in which they lived. Instead of profoundly
affecting their world with the truth, they had instead allowed their
belief in the one true God to be relegated to mere religious observance
devoid of the power to redeem and transform society.
As Christians today, we find ourselves in a very similar predicament.
We have allowed a culture that is hostile to the God revealed in the
Bible to cloister us within the walls of religion. You can believe
in your God, sing your songs, go to church, and have your
holidays, but dont you dare think for one minute that youre
going to bring your gospel out of the church building and expect to
change us with it. And in return for the acceptance and comforts
of society, we have compromised the truth and bargained away our ability
to bring the relevance of the gospel and the biblical worldview to
every aspect of life.
Colson, who is perhaps one of the most outspoken and articulate prophetic
voices of our generation, along with co-author Nancy Pearcey, a former
student of Schaeffer, pick up where Schaeffer left off. Their whole
premise is that our Christian faith is supposed to affect every area
of life and culture - what is referred to as our worldview. They assert
that we live in what is called a post-modern or post-christian culture
which refuses to admit the existence of the God of the Bible outright,
or at least denies His relevance to and supremacy over His creation.
The authors clearly demonstrate not only His desire, but our responsibility
to restore and redeem culture-everything from politics and education,
to science, art, music, and even, well, television. With expert legal
precision and logical analysis, Colson, an attorney and President
Richard Nixons former hatchet man, masterfully argues
a convincing case with overwhelming evidence in favor of the biblical
or Christian worldview.
So, how now shall we live? This is the challenge Colson and Pearcey
take on as we enter the new millennium. They do this in three ways.
First of all, they define the biblical worldview by describing it
through the analytical framework of creation, fall, and redemption.
In other words, where did we come from (creation); how did we get
into the mess were in now (the fall); and where are we going
(redemption). In the same way that those who are trained to recognize
counterfeit money must first become familiar with the real thing before
being able to easily spot that which is false, the authors demonstrate
the utter rationality that has as its heart the concept that there
must be an intelligent Creator and Designer of the universe. This
is the real thing.
Secondly, they identify the different worldviews that are prevalent
today and give a history of each and how they have come to dominate
and pollute our very thought processes like a toxic oil spill
that has invaded every area of life. They then, through this analytical
framework, stack these opposing worldviews up against the Christian
or biblical worldview to show their absurdity and failure in the light
Are you tired of being philosophically outgunned in the public square
or in the classroom, knowing youve got the truth but are at
a loss as to how to articulate it? Colson and Pearcey teach and equip
us to accurately handle truth and to practically be able to give a
defense for the hope within us.
This is by far the best defense I have ever read, but it was not written
for the purpose of maintaining a defensive posture. One piece of weaponry
with which they arm us is the idea that we are not to combat
science with religion, but poor science with better science.
They also unmask the underlying reason for modern concepts
such as evolution, humanism, Marxism, communism, the deification of
personal comfort and freedom, new age and eastern religions, muticulturalism,
and values clarification: it is nothing less than the age-old sinister
agenda of the kingdom of darkness opposing and trying to exalt itself
against the kingdom of light. Part of the deception lies in the fact
that these ideas, which are built on faulty foundations, hide behind
the cloak of science, education, or salvation. Put to the touchstone
of creation, fall, and redemption, they all fail the test.
Thirdly the authors interweave throughout the book absolutely gripping
and fascinating real life stories of individuals who themselves were
transformed by the gospel and were then used by Him to bring restoration
into the spheres of influence in which he had placed them. Do you
have any idea who St. Patrick was and the far reaching influence he
had on European life? You gotta check it out. The book is loaded with
marvelous surprises that pay tribute to the love and power of Jesus
Christ brought into the nitty gritty of daily life.
These are stories that demonstrate that human life is worth saving
and redeeming because we bear the divine image of our Creator. For
example, there is the story of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a Jewish abortionist
and founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL),
who presided over sixty thousand abortions, including the aborting
of two of his own children. With the development of the technology
of ultrasound that vividly reveals the reality of life in the womb,
Nathanson, the author of the film, The Silent Scream, comes face to
face with the horror of what he has given his life to in the name
of personal freedom. Is there hope for him and the crushing guilt
under which he finds himself? This particular account traces Gods
progressive revelation of Himself in Nathansons life through
the creation, fall, redemption framework until the most outspoken
champion of abortion rights comes to faith in Jesus Christ.
Then theres Ken McGarrity, a helicopter gunner who is blinded
and loses both legs in Vietnam. When he arrives at the army hospital
in Pleiku, Dr. Kenneth Swan and his team of surgeons do all they can
to save McGarritys life. The next day, Swans commanding
officer grills him about why he decided to treat the case so aggressively:
There was no other way to treat his injuries,
Swan replied, surprised at the question. His superior looked him squarely
in the eye. Look, Ken, why send blind, double amputees with
significant brain damage back to their parents? What were you thinking?
Swan found himself responding from his gut. I was trained to
treat the sick. Its not up to me who lives and dies. Thats
Gods decision. As the surgeon on duty, it was up
to you, said his commanding officer. The next time you
make a call, ask yourself what kind of life youre condemning
someone to. He paused. Of course, he may die yet.
He sounded grimly hopeful.
Ken McGarrity does not die. He comes back to the United States, and
because of one surgeon who believed in and dedicated himself to the
sanctity of human life, goes on the become a lover of Jesus, a husband
and father of two girls, a college graduate, and scuba diver.
And author Colson is himself an example of someone rescued by the
gospel of Jesus Christ who, after being incarcerated for ten months
for his role in the Watergate scandal, returned to prison, but this
time to found Prison Fellowship and become an agent of redemptive
transformation in the prison systems of the world. There are other
wonderful stories in the book that illustrate the ability of the gospel
not only to save, but also to redeem, restore, and transform human
lives and societies. However, the best account of true life restoration,
and perhaps the most moving I have ever read, is saved for the end
of the book. Dont read ahead! Youll rob yourself of the
challenge, equipping, and information that is so vital if we are to
be salt and light to this generation. Salt and light both radically
change their environment, and so should we. This book, full of truth
and hope, is highly recommended for any Christian who yearns to fulfill
Gods purposes in the culture in which we have been placed, as
well as the person who is seeking the answer to where did we come
from, how did we get to this place, and where are we going.
No worldview is merely a theoretical philosophy. It is intensely practical,
affecting the way we live our lives, day in and day out, as well as
the way we influence the world around us. If we adopt a false worldview,
we will inevitably find ourselves going against the grain of the universe,
leading to consequences we cannot live withas millions of Americans
are discovering. If, however, we order our lives in accord with reality,
we will not only find meaning and purpose but also discover that our
lives are healthier and more fulfilled. Christianity is an accurate
road map of reality, and we must be ready to make the case to those
who are growing increasingly aware of the futility of the other worldviews.